Airbus A321neo Flies for the First Time

 - February 9, 2016, 11:34 AM
The first A321neo takes off from Hamburg powered by CFM Leap-1A turbofans. (Photo: Airbus)

The first Airbus A321neo equipped with CFM International Leap-1A engines completed its maiden flight on Tuesday from Hamburg, Germany. During the five hour, 29 minute flight experimental test pilots Martin Scheuermann and Bernardo Saez Benito Hernandez and test-flight engineer Gérard Leskerpit performed tests on engine speed variation, systems behavior and flight envelope evaluation. Airbus expects to deliver the first production A321neo with alternative Pratt & Whitney PW1100Gs at the end of the year.

Originally planning to fly the first A321neo with its PW1100G geared turbofans, Airbus switched the flight test sequence as Pratt continues work on a cooling problem that forced it to impose certain operating restrictions on the smaller A320neo related to restart. Airbus originally expected to deliver the first production A320neo to Qatar Airways, but the Persian Gulf carrier deferred delivery until Pratt & Whitney resolved the cooling problem. The first A320neo now flies for Lufthansa Airlines.

In a statement immediately following first flight, CFM International took the opportunity to highlight what its characterizes as a flawless test program for the Leap-1A, which received joint EASA-FAA certification last November.

“We could not be happier with the Leap engine and are proud of the many ‘firsts’ such as today’s flight it has powered throughout the A320neo flight-test program,” said CFM chief executive Jean-Paul Ebanga. “We have confirmed that the engine is meeting its performance specifications, and the reliability and durability it has exhibited throughout testing is a glowing testament to the professionalism and expertise of the team that is bringing this product to market.”

Airbus expects the first CFM-powered A321neo to enter service in early 2017.